Starts Sunday! Christmas with Touchstone!

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Touchstone Theatre

Christmas City Follies XXI

Directed by: Jp Jordan

Performed by: the Touchstone Ensemble and friends


Premiering via YouTube watch party December 20 @7p
and available through January 2, 2021


Touchstone Theatre’s high-spirited, homegrown sendup of the Christmas season in the Christmas City goes online for 2020! For the last 20 years Christmas City Follies has been singing, dancing, laughing, and cartwheeling its way into the hearts of its audiences. This year, a streamed video edition of Follies – starring Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new material – will premiere on December 20th at 7p via a YouTube watch party and be available to watch, as many times as you want, in the comfort of your home through January 2nd.

TICKETS

Prices
$5/Reduced ticket**
$12/Individual
$35/Household

**Touchstone typically offers a Pay-What-You-Will ticket at the door and instead will offer a reduced $5 ticket this year.

This is a little confusing and different! We know, so much is this year. Basically, choose your adventure. Two people in your household? You could buy two Individual tickets or, if you want to support more, buy a Household ticket. Struggling this year? Get the Reduced ticket. We kindly ask people to refrain from sharing the link with folks who haven’t purchased. The best way to show your appreciation and keep Follies coming another year is by purchasing tickets.

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“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

Touchstone Theatre’s Christmas City Follies

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Christmas City Follies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2020
Contact: Lisa Jordan
610-349-8583
lisa@touchstone.org

21st Edition of Christmas City Follies Goes Online

Touchstone Theatre’s quirky holiday classic comes to YouTube

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre announces Christmas City Follies XXI, the theatre’s annual holiday-themed variety show, to be presented online for 2020. Follies will premiere on YouTube on December 20, 2020 at 7pm with a watch party and then be available to view through January 2, 2021.

A favorite of Lehigh Valley residents past and present, many locals and tourists alike have come to count Christmas City Follies as part of their holiday tradition, coming out to Touchstone’s cozy black box theatre for an evening of original sketches, characters, songs, and more. The show traditionally ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, with subject matter that has included family stories, dancing hippos, snow camels, holiday yoga, and kazoo-playing Christmas trees.

In the midst of an unusual year and an unusual season, Touchstone has elected to forego an in-person performance in favor of shooting this year’s Follies as a movie; the company will continue to create and perform material for its eclectic cast of characters, filmed as scenes on Touchstone’s property and around Bethlehem, using the Christmas City as its backdrop. The show will feature returning Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new music, personalities, sketches, and stories.

“Santa brought us all the gift of reinvention this year with our 21st edition of  Follies,” says artistic director Jp Jordan. “It’s exhilarating to be able to take on this work from a completely new perspective.”

The Touchstone company will also be performing an in-person “mini Follies” at outdoor holiday events across Bethlehem between Saturday, November 28th and Sunday, December 6th, featuring clownish characters delivering classic Christmas carols to shoppers. Locations include the Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites new Christmas in the Quarter, the Sun Inn Courtyard’s Wintergarten, and the South Side Arts District’s New St. Christmas Tree.

Christmas City Follies is sponsored by Peoples Security Bank and Trust; the show receives additional support from the County of Northampton. Touchstone’s season is supported locally by season sponsor RCN. WDIY provides media sponsorship, and Working Dog Press provides print sponsorship.

Christmas City Follies XXI premieres with a watch party on December 20, 2020 at 7pm and will remain available online through January 2, 2021. Tickets are: $12 for individuals and $35 for households. Touchstone typically also offers a Pay-What-You-Will at the door ticket and instead will be offering a reduced $5 ticket for those who would benefit from a discounted admission. This year, tickets are a link that audience members will use to view the show online. Tickets go on sale November 20th and may be purchased at 610.867.1689 or online at www.touchstone.org

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POSTPONED: “Not for Sale” — Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Awareness week POSTPONED

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must register here

Touchstone Theatre ensemble member Mary Wright has been guiding a group of survivors and advocates in creating poetry, artwork, stories, and music.

This event is part of the Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Awareness week. LVAT week is a seven-day awareness campaign. In 2019 the executives of Lehigh and Northampton counties declared the first full week of November as Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Week. The campaign provides an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities, and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.

The Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Collaborative is composed of several social justice organizations dedicated to fighting the fight on the front lines. The founding organizations of the Collaborative include Aspire to Autonomy, Bethlehem Rotary, Bloom Bangor, Crime Victims Council, LVHN Street Medicine, Marsy’s Law, Truth For Women, VAST (The Valley Against Sex Trafficking), and Valley Youth House.

NOT for SALE was originally planned as a live performance at TouchStone Theatre — was moved to digital due to COVID-19.

“The Hidden Seed” — a play about early Moravian history in Bethlehem — is back November 11

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It’s back!

“The Hidden Seed” premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound in 2019.

register here

“We mustn’t abandon the promise of unity. We mustn’t abandon the promise of the hidden seed  . . . The hidden seed is planted in every generation because those who want justice keep it alive . . . We did it . . . and now we are here to pass it on.”

Three 18th century female Bethlehem ghosts — a formerly enslaved West African woman, a Native American woman, and one of the original Moravian immigrants from Europe — agree to tell everything, the whole story of the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem not just the happy parts, without lying.

Yes, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.

“They [we in the audience] will only understand if you tell them the whole story, the whole truth.”

Like about Gnadenhutten, the Moravian Massacre.

Do you know Gnadenhutten?

96 Christian Native Americans killed at the Moravian Mission of Gnadenhutten, skulls crushed with mallets to save bullets.

This anguished cry of a distraught Native American teller cracks the smooth surface of pious Moravian history.

So, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.

Did you know there was slavery in Bethlehem?

Our rather matter-of-fact African American teller bluntly pierces the “miracle” of good treatment rationalized by the European with the hypocrisy of “You believed you could own us.”

“The seeds of our failure were sown side-by-side with our dreams.”

So much for Utopia. Maybe best that it be forgotten.

Or is the hidden seed of equality and unity still available to us?

register here

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

“Not for Sale” — Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Awareness week

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

must register here

Touchstone Theatre ensemble member Mary Wright has been guiding a group of survivors and advocates in creating poetry, artwork, stories, and music.

This event is part of the Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Awareness week. LVAT week is a seven-day awareness campaign. In 2019 the executives of Lehigh and Northampton counties declared the first full week of November as Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Week. The campaign provides an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities, and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.

The Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Collaborative is composed of several social justice organizations dedicated to fighting the fight on the front lines. The founding organizations of the Collaborative include Aspire to Autonomy, Bethlehem Rotary, Bloom Bangor, Crime Victims Council, LVHN Street Medicine, Marsy’s Law, Truth For Women, VAST (The Valley Against Sex Trafficking), and Valley Youth House.

NOT for SALE was originally planned as a live performance at TouchStone Theatre — was moved to digital due to COVID-19.

“The Hidden Seed” — a play about early Moravian history in Bethlehem — is back November 11

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

It’s back!

“The Hidden Seed” premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound in 2019.

register here

“We mustn’t abandon the promise of unity. We mustn’t abandon the promise of the hidden seed  . . . The hidden seed is planted in every generation because those who want justice keep it alive . . . We did it . . . and now we are here to pass it on.”

Three 18th century female Bethlehem ghosts — a formerly enslaved West African woman, a Native American woman, and one of the original Moravian immigrants from Europe — agree to tell everything, the whole story of the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem not just the happy parts, without lying.

Yes, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.

“They [we in the audience] will only understand if you tell them the whole story, the whole truth.”

Like about Gnadenhutten, the Moravian Massacre.

Do you know Gnadenhutten?

96 Christian Native Americans killed at the Moravian Mission of Gnadenhutten, skulls crushed with mallets to save bullets.

This anguished cry of a distraught Native American teller cracks the smooth surface of pious Moravian history.

So, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.

Did you know there was slavery in Bethlehem?

Our rather matter-of-fact African American teller bluntly pierces the “miracle” of good treatment rationalized by the European with the hypocrisy of “You believed you could own us.”

“The seeds of our failure were sown side-by-side with our dreams.”

So much for Utopia. Maybe best that it be forgotten.

Or is the hidden seed of equality and unity still available to us?

register here

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Touchstone’s “Dictators 4 Dummies” online Friday night

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FESTIVAL UNBOUND – DICTATORS 4 DUMMIES

now online

Friday, October 16, 7PM

An election season retrospective of original political satire. Ensemble Member Christopher Shorr presents a re-imagining of his 2018 musical, now a movie with larger-than-life characters played by action figures voiced by the original Dictators 4 Dummies cast. Plus: a concert of satirical songs from the Touchstone archive, with favorites from Bhudoo and The Pan Show: In Pan We Trust performed live by the Touchstone company. Join us for a comical evening, a musical challenge to complacency . . . and a chilling reminder of the tenuous state of democracy.

After careful consideration of the damp and chilly forecast for the next three days, we’ve decided to convert Dictators 4 Dummies… and more! to a fully online event. We know that many of you were looking forward to joining us in the parking lot theatre, but we believe this will allow us to deliver the best product to as many of our audience as possible, while not hedging our bets on the fickle weather gods.
So – please join us VIA LIVESTREAM, tomorrow (Friday, October 16) at 7pm for Dictators 4 Dummies… and more! The whole show will still be there – with pre-recorded opening acts from Bhudoo and The Pan Show, leading up to the world premiere of Christopher Shorr’s new Tyrants of Tomorrow Telethon MOVIE! Watch at touchstone.org/d4d – viewing is free, donations are gratefully accepted (remember – although the fictional telethon is raising money in support of dictators, your donations support Touchstone’s continuing work in building community and battling complacency)

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Two more events in Touchstone’s Festival UnBound 2020

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“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2020
Contact: Lisa Jordan
610-349-8583
lisa@touchstone.org

Touchstone’s Festival UnBound 2020 Final Performances

Series concludes with “Tales of Hope and Resistance” and “Dictators 4 Dummies… and more!”

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre will wrap up its COVID-friendly, social-distance-safe Festival UnBound 2020 with two artistic offerings— Tales of Hope and Resistance, a collection of stories from around the world, presented in music and shadow puppetry (October 9); and Dictators 4 Dummies… and more!, a retrospective of Touchstone’s musical political satires of years past and a film premiere (October 16).

After last year’s Festival UnBound, a ten-day festival of arts and community dialogue in October 2019, Touchstone decided that for 2020, the second year of the festival would take the form of outdoor events, parties, forums, and performances, available for socially distanced outdoor viewing in Touchstone’s back parking lot and many also via livestream, to accommodate the safety needs of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The festival opened with a block party for the South Side’s Latinx community, followed by a storytelling performance by local medical workers, and a series of events around nature and sustainability in our community.

The final two events of Festival UnBound 2020 feature the artists within the Touchstone company more prominently. Tales of Hope and Resistance, directed by Touchstone artistic director Jp Jordan, shares retellings of classic stories from around the world, centering on themes of overcoming evil and adversity. The evening of October 9th opens with Irish balladeer Seamus Kennedy, a longtime familiar face at Celtic Classic, regaling the audience with songs and tales of Ireland’s storied past; if Tales goes into its rain date performances (October 10th, 11th), local musical treasure and Godfrey Daniels icon Dave Fry will entertain audiences with familiar songs of revolution. The second half of the evening features shadow puppet renditions of traditional stories from Greece, Kenya, Japan, Brazil, and more. Puppets are created in collaboration with Mock Turtle Marionette Theater and performed by Touchstone and Moravian College’s current cohort of MFA in Performance Creation students. Original music backing the stories is created by Jordan and popular local musician Neil Grover.

“Mythology is such a central part of our collective histories,” says Jordan. “At transitional moments in history, like the one we are presumably living through at this very minute, it can serve us well to rediscover what we once knew.”

The final show of the festival, Dictators 4 Dummies… and more!, directed by Touchstone ensemble member Christopher Shorr, takes a look back at the original, political, satirical musicals that Touchstone has created over the last decade, performed live as a cabaret by members of the Touchstone company. The evening concludes with Shorr’s original 2018 musical Dictator 4 Dummies, now reimagined as a feature-length movie with an action figure cast.

“Something that I love about Touchstone is that it steps up during election years and deals directly with the issues of the day,” says Shorr. “For this night of musical satire, we will look at the perils of competition, the buffoonery we often see in Washington (no matter who is in charge), and the danger of complacency. As a society, we need to stay engaged and alert now more than ever. We’re trying to do our part— yes, with musical comedy— to help that effort.”

Funding for Festival UnBound is ongoing, but to date, Festival sponsors and supporters include: Air Products, CADC Bethlehem, Discover Lehigh Valley, FIG Bethlehem, Freestone Productions, Kira Willey Productions LLC, PBS39, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, PNC Bank, The Morning Call, RCN, R.K.Laros Foundation, UGI, WDIY, Webfoot Digital, and Working Dog Press.

Tales of Hope and Resistance performs Friday, October 9 (rain dates October 10 and 11) at 8p; Dictators 4 Dummies… and more! performs Friday, October 16 (rain dates October 17 and 18) at 7p. Ticketing is by table— $40 for a 4-person table, $30 for a 2-person table. Performances take place in the parking lot behind Touchstone Theatre at 321 E. 4th Street; masks and social distancing are required for all events. Access to the livestream for both events can be found on the theatre’s website. More information at touchstone.org

https://www.facebook.com/FestivalUnBound/

https://www.instagram.com/festivalunbound/

https://twitter.com/FestivalUnBound

321 E. 4th. St.

Homecoming @ Touchstone Friday

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Festival UnBound – Homecoming

A continuation of last year’s celebration of the history, struggles, and successes in the Black community of the Lehigh Valley, recognizing exceptional talent, drive, and leadership. In this year of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, civil discourse and loss of great civil rights icons – a year where the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are raised in voices across every state – we claim space and call for justice, recognizing that our history informs the present.

DONATIONS

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Touchstone’s Festival UnBound does it again — Aloud — Saturday 8PM

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Bethlehem — are you paying attention!! LGBTQIA+ — Is anybody doing the kinds of things Touchstone is!!

Festival UnBound — Aloud

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321 E. 4th St.

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Festival UnBound this Saturday! Listen to and learn from our local healers

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Touchstone continues its wonderful community building activities!

FESTIVAL UNBOUND – MEDICAL WORKERS SPEAK OUT


September 12, 7p
(rain date: September 13, 7p)

Tickets are FREE, donations are welcome. Interested in reserving a table? Call 610-867-1689 or email chris@touchstone.org

Performance takes place OUTSIDE, in Touchstone’s parking lot. Masks and social distancing are required for all attendees.

DONATIONS


In the last year, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have come to the forefront of national attention for their work on the front lines of COVID-19. Come out and take a listen to what some of our local medical workers have to say about the experience – tales of trauma, triumph, and compassion, from the healers in our community.

With food by Roasted and drinks by Molly’s Grille and Pub – available for cash only purchase all night, so arrive hungry and thirsty!

Festival UnBound starts (again) tonight!

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Festival UnBound – Latinx Block Party


September 4, 7p
(rain dates: September 5 and 6, 7p)

Tickets are FREE, donations are welcome. Interested in reserving a table? Call 610-867-1689

Performance takes place OUTSIDE, in Touchstone’s parking lot. Masks and social distancing are required for all attendees.

Kicking off the season with an end-of-the-summer party for our neighborhood and our neighbors – all are welcome! Join Touchstone for an evening of local food, live music by Héctor Rosado Latin Jazz Experience, and celebration of local Latinx culture and community.

With food by La Lupita Taqueria and drinks by Molly’s Grille and Pub – available for cash only purchase all night, so arrive hungry and thirsty!

321 E. 4th St.

Calendar alert! Touchstone’s Festival UnBound rides again!

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Festival UnBound Sept 4 – Oct 16

Festival UnBound, year two, socially distanced

Touchstone opens 2020-21 season with reprise of community festival

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre will begin its COVID-friendly, social-distance-safe 2020-21 season with a return to Festival UnBound, a celebration of Lehigh Valley arts and community discourse that premiered in October 2019. This year’s festival will feature weekly events running from September 4-October 16, 2020.

The first year of Festival UnBound took place twenty years after the closing of Bethlehem Steel, a massively impactful and traumatic event for the community. In the years since the closing of the Steel, Touchstone began to explore questions of community and identity in the Bethlehem community: Who were we, now that the Steel was gone? What were the challenges ahead, and what were the values that would hold the community together as we faced the task of shaping our future? Out of these questions came Festival UnBound in October 2019, a ten-day festival of arts and community dialogue around concerns of diversity, sustainability, health, youth leadership, and interconnectedness. The festival was an immense success, and many in the community expressed a desire for the festival to continue.

“What emerged from the Festival was a vision of our community as a healthy, just, and loving place, as it had never been before— one full of music and play in the service of compassion and joy,” says Touchstone Ensemble Member Bill George, who coordinated Festival UnBound in 2019. “We knew we couldn’t let go of that vision but had to keep holding it up as a light to lead us forward. And so, the Festival must live.”

In an extraordinary 2020, Touchstone will be manifesting Festival UnBound in a series of outdoor events, parties, forums, and performances. Many will be free to attend, and most will provide a livestream or digital recording to accommodate audience members who are not comfortable attending for concerns of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Planned events include:

  • LATINX BLOCK PARTY – September 4, 7p – Kicking off the season with an end-of-the-summer party for our neighborhood and our neighbors – all are welcome! Join Touchstone for an evening of local food, live music by Héctor Rosado Latin Jazz Experience, and celebration of local Latinx culture and community. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: September 5 and September 6, 7pm.
  • MEDICAL WORKERS SPEAK OUT – September 12, 7p – In the last year, doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have come to the forefront of national attention for their work on the front lines of COVID-19. Come out and take a listen to what some of our local medical workers have to say about the experience – tales of trauma, triumph, and compassion, from the healers in our community. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain date: September 13, 7pm.
  • RUMI/NATION – September 18-19, 6p – An original project created by Touchstone/Moravian MFA student Sean Patrick Cassidy. This site-specific audio walking tour starts on the South Bethlehem Greenway and takes us into a world within our own, allowing the audience to reflect on how they interact with and benefit from natural cycles of change. Cost: FREE, donation welcome, limited spots available. Venue: Performance takes place outside, starting at the 400s block of the South Bethlehem Greenway and covers a 2-3 mile walk around Bethlehem. Rain date: September 20, 6pm.
  • SUSTAINABILITY FORUM – September 19, 6p – At last year’s Sustainability Forum, high schoolers from across Bethlehem came together to share projects that would create a more sustainable community for all of us. This year, our students – as they continue to reflect on the massive changes in our world – take those big plans and bring them to the steps of City Hall, to make their voices heard. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Outside on the steps of Bethlehem City Hall. Rain date: September 20, 6pm.
  • ALOUD – September 26, Time TBA – An original project created by Touchstone/Moravian MFA student Adam Ercolani. LGBTQIA+ youth coming into their own identities often feel trapped and restrained by their surroundings and circumstance. How can artistic creation and performance allow us to process and understand our identities in a new way? An exploration of queer identity, self-discovery, and finding a way out of the bonds that hold us back. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: TBA. Rain date: September 26.
  • HOMECOMING – October 2, 7p – A continuation of last year’s celebration of the history, struggles, and successes in the Black community of the Lehigh Valley, recognizing exceptional talent, drive, and leadership. In this year of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, civil discourse and loss of great civil rights icons – a year where the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are raised in voices across every state – we claim space and call for justice, recognizing that our history informs the present. Cost: FREE, donation welcome. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain date: October 3, 7pm.
  • TALES OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE – October 9, 8p – From around the world, myths and fairy tales have always taught us how to triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. Touchstone in collaboration with Mock Turtle Marionette Theater presents retellings of traditional stories from the diverse cultural backgrounds of the Lehigh Valley, featuring live music and puppetry. Together, we look to the wisdom of the past to remind us that we are capable of overcoming adversity, now and always. Cost: Tickets by table: $40 for a 4-top, $30 for a 2-top. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: October 10 and 11, 7pm.
  • DICTATORS 4 DUMMIES… AND MORE! – October 16, 7p – An election season retrospective of original political satire. Ensemble Member Christopher Shorr presents a re-imagining of his 2018 musical, now a movie with larger-than-life characters played by action figures voiced by the original Dictators 4 Dummies cast. Plus: a live concert of satirical songs from the Touchstone archive. Join us for a comical evening… and a chilling reminder of the tenuous state of democracy. Cost: Tickets by table: $40 for a 4-top, $30 for a 2-top. Venue: Touchstone Parking Lot (321 E. 4th St. Bethlehem, PA 18015). Rain dates: October 17 and 18, 7pm.

Funding for Festival UnBound is ongoing, but to date, Festival sponsors and supporters include: CADC Bethlehem, Discover Lehigh Valley, FIG Bethlehem, Freestone Productions, Kira Willey Productions LLC, PBS 39, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Morning Call, RCN, WDIY, Webfoot Digital, and Working Dog Press.

Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound takes place September 4-October 16, 2020, with performances taking place in the parking lot behind Touchstone Theatre and other locations throughout the city. More information at www.touchstone.org

“We’re all connected . . . Everybody needs freedom”

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“Lehigh Valley be Free,” original song and music video that premiered July 24th as part of Touchstone Theatre’s “Songs of Hope & Resistance” event.

Gadfly’s sobbing with the vision.

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DONATE NOW to support the musicians, artists, and producers who made the
Lehigh Valley Song Project possible!

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Reminder: Touchstone’s Songs of Hope and Resistance Thursday July 23

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SONGS OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE

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In a time of unrest, uncertainty, and difficult changes, join Touchstone for a celebration of community and connectedness with a social-distance safe outdoor party in the Touchstone parking lot.

July 23, 7pm

SONGS OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE

Touchstone: Songs of Hope and Resistance July 23

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SONGS OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE

Touchstone 4

In a time of unrest, uncertainty, and difficult changes, join Touchstone for a celebration of community and connectedness with a social-distance safe outdoor party in the Touchstone parking lot.

July 23, 7pm

SONGS OF HOPE AND RESISTANCE

Touchdowns for Touchstone this week: support your local artists and art institutions

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations: June 2, 5, 9, 12.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

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321 E. 4th St.

Fresh Voices from Touchstone in early June

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It would be a very dead place if the arts community wasn’t here.
Pamela Wallace of Crowded Kitchen Players

Followers know that Gadfly has been making a concerted effort to support the residential arts community — home-grown talent!

He’s hoping that local artists in various genres will see Gadfly as a place to publish their work and to discuss their work. Pass the word to others!

And he will call attention to local events and productions that showcase local artistic skills. Pass him the word!

Recently he called attention to Touchstone Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Festival. 10 or so original works by our elementary school students. It was amazing — even more so because of the agility of the braintrust at Touchstone headquarters in moving this in-person experience online because of the coronavirus beast. It was — drum roll again — amazing. There were some 1200 online views of the Festival, and nearly $10,000 was raised. A special thanks to sponsor Peron Development too!

Mark your calendars for the first and second week of June for the next Touchstone presentations.

FRESH VOICES 2020

Always fresh, sometimes provocative, never ordinary – Touchstone’s apprentice showcase returns for 2020! In light of recent events concerning public health and safety, these performances have been developed to take place remotely, and will feature both downloadable and streaming content from Touchstone Theatre apprentices Sean Patrick Cassidy and Adam Ercolani.

June 5 @ 7pm, streaming on YouTube Live
POTHOLE
Let’s go for a drive. The best conversations happen in your car. The best concerts do, too. 

DR. SOGOL’S MAGNIFICENT, MALFUNCTIONING, INTERGALACTIC, COSMIC CAR WASH AND STAMPS
A Quality Wash. Everytime. A completely customized and curated, compacted dose of “live” theatre.

June 2, 5, 9, 12, released at www.isonationpresents.com
ISO/NATION PRESENTS
A modern radio play for deep listeners of the Lehigh Valley and Beyond.

Fresh Voices 2020
Viewing/listening is FREE, and donations are gratefully accepted at bit.ly/FreshVoices2020

touchstone 2
321 E. 4th St.

Support your local young playwrights!

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Gadfly supports home-grown talent!

Please donate: the local arts community needs a solid financial base to thrive

Touchstone Theatre
Theatre that transforms

Touchstone 3

Proudly presenting
THE 15th ANNUAL
YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL
ONLINE!

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2020 @ 7pm
WHERE: Wherever you are!

Here’s how it works: We’ll be streaming concert readings of our festival finalists on YouTube live. You can tune in for the event, either dressed up in your festival best or in your pajamas.

Link to the livestream will be emailed out and posted on our website and social media by 12 noon on May 9th.

Make it dinner and a show: Since you’ll be watching the festival from home, why not order curbside pickup from your favorite local restaurant? Shop at local greats, like Jenny’s KualiMolinari’sMolly’s Irish PubThe MintBoleteAsiaSetta LunaThe BayouSouthside 313The Wooden Match, and more – they’ve been kind enough to donate to Touchstone and YPF over the years, and treating yourself to dinner is the most delicious way to support your local business community.

And speaking of support: On a normal year, the Festival performance is followed by our annual Gala, which raises money to support Touchstone’s award-winning arts in education programming. In lieu of the Gala, we’re simply accepting donations – we know that money is tight for many of you, and there are many worthy causes (especially now), but any support is greatly appreciated. You can donate directly here. Many thanks to those who have already donated – we’re blown away by your generosity!

Young Playwrights’ Festival is generously sponsored by our naming sponsor


YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS’ FESTIVAL ONLINE

May 9, 2020
Please donate!

Moravian Academy’s Green Team on Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

logo The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate
Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council logo

This essay by Moravian Academy’s Green Team was generated as part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound’s Sustainability Forum and is part of an ongoing initiative to stir our community, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, to think creatively about how we can make our home, our community, a better place to live. It is a challenge we can only successfully accomplish together.

Bill George, Touchstone Theatre

Limiting the Use of Plastic in Bethlehem

One issue that is prevalent in our community is single-use plastic pollution and waste, especially surrounding grocery store policies relating to food preservation. Our perspective on the issue is that our community could do a better job of cutting down on plastic use. This would help the environment by limiting the exposure to pollution from the plastic itself and the chemicals used in or on plastic. Is it possible to completely stop using plastic? In today’s world, maybe not, but it is not only possible but plausible to limit the use of plastic and to use more ecologically friendly options whenever possible. Imagine walking into a grocery store and going to the produce section to get some fruit. When you get there, there is plastic everywhere. Plastic bags to hold the fruit, prepackaged vegetables wrapped in plastic, even bundles of bananas held together by and wrapped in plastic. Why is so much plastic packaging necessary in our grocery stores when nature has already provided a natural package? There are such excessive uses of plastic in our community as wrapping bananas together even though they already have peels, unpeeling an orange and packaging it in plastic, or giving out single-use plastic bags in which to carry produce. These can contribute significantly to plastic pollution that can severely harm our environment.

In order to cut down on our community’s plastic use, grocery stores could provide more environmentally friendly options. These options could include having giveaways of free reusable bags for store members, charging extra for using a plastic bag (something that is already done in some places in the U.S.), using paper bags at the checkout instead, having recycling centers in the store for used plastic bags, and giving customers who bring in their own bags or pre-approved containers a small discount from their purchase. U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal are both members of our government that have been pushing for legislation that addresses our country’s plastic pollution problems, specifically in relation to marine, waterway, and landscape pollution. Also, organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition seek to end plastic pollution through education of the public and encouragement of people to be more aware of their plastic consumer consumption as well as to encourage eateries worldwide to end their use of single-use plastics. The Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council also submitted a proposal to the City Council in February of 2019 asking the city of Bethlehem to place a ban on all single-use plastic bags and to enforce a ten-cent fee on paper bags.

One reason plastic pollution has become a big problem is because it poses a chemical danger to our environment. When plastic bags are left undisposed of in waterways like rivers, streams, or the ocean, they can leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil and damage surrounding plants and animals, affecting whole ecosystems and the water we drink. Additionally, in marine environments specifically, the plastic in our water can release odors that mimic those of some species’ food. This draws wildlife towards pollution and can cause entanglement and consumption, killing the animals. The microplastics consumed by organisms at the bottom of the food chain accumulate all the way to the top, resulting in our personal consumption of about 120-140 plastic particles a day.

A resolution to the plastic pollution problem requires action from all levels of our community from personal to corporate. We each must take personal responsibility for our contribution towards plastic use and consumption. By being increasingly aware of what we are purchasing and decreasing our use of single-use plastics by using reusable bags, jars, or containers, we can hope to reduce overall single-use plastic waste. We can also reduce our plastic use by buying from local and small business establishments to avoid large-scale plastic use from the shipping and packaging industries. Individuals can also use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones.

On a business level, it is necessary to create anti-plastic policies to reinforce the benefits of sustainable action. In grocery stores, deterrents should be implemented against the use of plastic by utilizing a baseline monetary penalty for the use of plastic bags. To reduce plastic use, grocery stores can also invest in bulk food sections where the consumer can bring reusable containers or bags to get what they need. This method of purchase also decreases food waste since consumers only take what they need because the price would be based on weight and not what is cheaper, whether it be more than they need or not. Additionally, we believe that grocery stores should advertise and promote proper recycling and anti-food waste practices to the wider community. For example, stores should encourage the use of plastic bag recycling programs to which most people already have access by providing information about their locations, purposes, and benefits. At restaurants an effort should be made to not offer plastic straws or to, instead, offer a biodegradable or reusable option such as paper or metal straws. Restaurants can also replace styrofoam or plastic take-out containers with biodegradable containers.

Not only are personal responsibility and improved corporate policies necessary to reach a true solution but so is reaching out to our local legislatures and such government officials as Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Jr., to implement laws to protect our environment, health, and natural resources. We must appeal to local governmental bodies like the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council to promote and to continue to protect the environment with legislation like their single plastic reducing ordinance created by the Waste Reduction Task Force. It all starts with voting for those who endorse environmental policies and limiting our plastic production or use.

Green Team
Moravian Academy
Advisor: Cole Wisdo

This essay is also posted on the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council Facebook page March 26.

Theater ticket offer from the Gadfly!

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Don’t be bashful!

Gadfly still has 2 tickets he can’t use for the Sunday March 8, 2 pm performance. Free to someone who hasn’t been to Touchstone Theatre in exchange for at least a selfie that he can publish.

As a bonus, you can take a selfie with the Gadfly his very own self!

Edith Piaf: Hymn to Love

March 5-8, 2020
Thurs-Sat @ 8 p, Sun @ 2p

Teatro Potlach of Fara Sabina, Italy returns with a new reimagining of their Edith Piaf cabaret; the original production played to four sold-out houses on their first visit to Bethlehem! This new iteration, created in collaboration with Touchstone Theatre, will delve deeper into the chanteuse’s life and will feature live accompaniment from Touchstone Musical Director Jason Hedrington.

———–

Dave Howell, “To Piaf with ‘Love’ at Touchstone Theatre.” Bethlehem Press, March 4, 2020.

Edith Piaf may not be a household name in the United States, but she is an icon in her native France and legendary throughout Europe.

Her life was as tumultuous as that of Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, and she has been compared to them.

Piaf was vilified for her many, often scandalous, love affairs and glorified for her singing. She was unique in the emotion she poured into her songs, and in the way they reflected her life.

Touchstone Theatre
321 E. 4th St.

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Contact Gadfly via the Contact link here on Gadfly or at ejg1@lehigh.edu.

Never enough H. D.! Thursday, February 13, 6:30-7:45, BAPL South Side

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Never enough H. D.!

HD discussion

And Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre’s original play The Secret about H. D., which premiered during Festival UnBound in October, returns April 2-5. Get your tickets early! Don’t miss!
Touchstone Theatre

Never enough H. D.! Thursday, February 13, 6:30-7:45, BAPL South Side

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

Bethlehem-born writer Hilda Doolittle — H. D. —  (1886-1961) is
the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure.”

Never enough H. D.!

HD discussion

And Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre’s original play The Secret about H. D., which premiered during Festival UnBound in October, returns April 2-5. Get your tickets early! Don’t miss!
Touchstone Theatre

ABE Awards for Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound productions

logo 78th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre logo

Huzzas, high-fives, hugs, handshakes, and honkings are in order for dramatic elements of Touchstone Theatre’s 10-day festival this fall that occasioned a near record 77 posts here on Gadfly.

Well done!

“The Secret” — the play about Bethlehem-born poet H. D. — returns to Touchstone April 2-5.

Paul Willistein, “14th annual ABEs Salute Lehigh Valley Stage: From plays to musicals, theater unbound in 2019.” Bethlehem Press, January 3, 2020.

Producer: Touchstone Theatre. “Festival UnBound,” the multimedia project two years in the making, produced some 20 events and ran 10 days in October 2019. The festival took a measure of Bethlehem’s southside 20 years after Touchstone’s landmark “Steelbouund” production when SteelStacks was a twinkle in the Christmas City star. It was a big year for Touchstone Theatre, which also produced a terrific 20th production of “Christmas City Follies.”

Play: “The Secret,” Mock Turtle Marionette Theater. The world premiere about H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Bethlehem native and poet, during “Festival UnBound” was part of “Finding H.D., A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle,” a year-long series of events organized by the Lehigh University English Department, Bethlehem Area Public Library, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and Mock Turtle Marionette Theatre. Doug Roysdon, Artistic Director, Mock Turtle Marionette Theater, was chief writer of the multimedia performance that mixes narrative, song, music, poetry, puppets and actors. Script collaborators were Jennie Gilrain, William Reichard-Flynn, Aidan Gilrain-McKenna, Matilda Snyder, Kalyani Singh and Seth Moglen.

Original Play: “Prometheus/Redux,” Touchstone Theatre. “Prometheus/Redux” was the astounding opening work of “Festival UnBound.” “Prometheus/Redux,” commissioned for “Festival UnBound,” is written by Gerald Stropnicky, a founding member of Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, and directed by Christopher Shorr, Touchstone ensemble member and director of theater at Moravian College. Music is by Harry Mann. Images and footage from the Steelworkers Archives are incorporated into the work as is an image of the implosion of Martin Tower, former Bethlehem Steel Corp. headquarters.

Ensemble, Play: “Prometheus/Redux,” Touchstone Theatre. Touchstone Theatre cofounder and ensemble member Bill George returned as Prometheus. It’s 20 years after he left The Steel and now, instead of being chained to the ladle, he is bound to a hospital bed, suffering liver failure. The cast included former steelworkers, a county judge and members of previous generations of the Touchstone ensemble.

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten